Stay off social media after a car accident

Posting photos and comments could harm your personal injury claim.

It's only natural after a car accident to want to share the news. Something significant happened in your life. You could use some sympathy and support. Post, post. Tweet, tweet. Blog, blog. Here's the pix.

Unfortunately, it's not only friends and family who take an interest. Savvy insurance adjusters and defense lawyers can use your social media fodder to undermine your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Many attorneys will advise you to delete your social media accounts after an accident. At a minimum, you need to put up your privacy shields and be careful about what you post.

The insurance company hearts your tweets and Facebook posts.

Anything you put out on social media is fair game: Facebook posts, Twitter bursts, Instagram pictures, LinkedIn updates, a blog rant about insurers. Insurance companies can use your words and images against you, even if you never meant for them to be public. Something innocent and unrelated to the accident - a photo of you laughing or doing something active - could be used as a counter-narrative to your claims of injury, pain and suffering.

In discovery, insurers may request full access to the part of your accounts that are not public, or seek a subpoena to recover posts or pictures that you thought were hidden or deleted. The more your case is worth, the more closely the defense will scrutinize your social media.

Take steps to minimize the damage.

The safest solution is to "go dark" by deleting or suspending your social media accounts. This will prevent prying eyes from seeing things that could hurt your legal case. You can reactivate after your injury case is resolved. How to deactivate Facebook · How to deactivate Twitter.

If you are not willing to go off the grid completely, the next best thing is to limit what they will find:

Manage what information you put out:

  • Don't discuss the details of your accident on social media, other than to say "FYI, I was in a car accident. Call me or message me privately."
  • Don't discuss your injuries, treatment, rehab or medical progress.
  • Don't post vacation pix, workout pix or photos of you doing anything that casts doubt on you being injured.
  • Even the simplest message can be twisted. "Had a collision :-( I'm OK but car is not." (Translation: You weren't injured.) "Went to the chiro, feeling 100 percent better." (Translation: You no longer need medical care.) "Girls/Guys night out!" (Translation: The accident has not disrupted your life).

Manage your settings and archives:

  • Delete any posts or tweets regarding your accident.
  • Delete past comments or pictures that could be used against you.
  • Make your Facebook settings private (friends and family only).
  • Ask friends not to tag you in their posts.
  • Don't accept new friend requests from people you don't know.
  • Don't assume that Instagram, Snapchat or other apps are safe.

Insurance companies and defense firms send their people to seminars on how to use social media to their advantage. The best way to preserve your interests after a car accident is to stay off Facebook and other social apps and then get your own legal counsel.

Hopefully you never have a crash. Meanwhile, share this post with your friends and family to spread the word about the dangers of sharing with friends and family after an accident.

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